Background: Pertussis disease was on the rise. Tdap vaccine was available. Young and middle-aged adults, though primary recipients, are not accustomed to getting immunizations. Little was known by the public about the disease or the vaccine. Health department efforts to immunize were unsuccessful. But much changed in spring 2010.
Setting: A local health department serving six suburban communities.
Population: 60,000 total.
Project Description: Tdap immunization rates improved because of five factors: education, availability, cost, outreach, and trust. Pertussis disease was national news citing epidemic levels and infant deaths in California and other states. Compelling advertisements and information about Tdap vaccine and pertussis began to appear on television and in women's magazines. Obstetric departments educated women and their families about the need for the vaccine. The health department was able to build on the public knowledge. Free Tdap vaccine was available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Board of Health agreed to free administration. The vaccine was readily available as an adjunct to other services being provided at the health department. Other outreach included work sites, and flu clinics where it was offered to people under 64. Three hundred doses were administered and more could have been given.
Results/Lessons Learned: Build on people's knowledge. People know about "tetanus booster shots". We called Tdap a "tetanus booster" with pertussis protection. Know that the young and middle-aged adults are not averse to immunizations but immunizations are not of primary concern. Present the vaccines to people in a convenient location or gathering. With education and a trusting relationship, people are likely to take advantage of the convenience. Worksites worked very well. Use opportunities to acquire free vaccines. Cost can be a barrier to many people. Re-educate adults that there are several vaccines that are age-appropriate in all stages of life.